Leading lifestyle and payments app Alipay has partnered with six mobile wallets in Europe to promote the easy use of QR code-based digital payments for travelers both on the Continent and from China.
Aiming for a launch this summer, Austria’s Bluecode, Helsinki-based ePassi, Spanish payments app Momo Pocket, Pagaqui of Portugal, Finland’s Pivo, Oslo-based Vipps and Alipay are working towards adopting a unified QR code based on Alipay technology. ePassi and Bluecode will offer technical services to the participating wallets to simplify the integration process.
Once the rollout is complete, users of the six participating European digital wallets will be able to make QR code-based payments with their home apps at local merchants in 10 European countries where those apps are accepted. For merchants, it means accepting payments not only from users of their home-market apps but from those of the six other partners as well.
“We feel honored to help promote a smart lifestyle and digital experiences in Europe, while continuing to connect more merchants with more Chinese tourists,” said Eric Jing, chairman and CEO of Ant Financial, parent company of Alipay.
The six mobile wallets count more than 5 million users among them, with about 190,000 merchants in Europe accepting payments via the apps. Alipay currently serves over 1 billion users with its Asia-based local e-wallets partners, many of whom are Chinese travelers increasingly heading to Europe for both business and holiday. Chinese tourists made 14.2 million visits to Europe in 2018, up 14.4% from the previous year, according to the European Travel Commission. Last week, Alipay’s head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Roland Palmer, told CNBC that the number of merchants in Europe had tripled over the past year.
Helsinki-based ePassi and Oslo-based Vipps have started to prepare to roll out the standardized QR-code payments across several Nordic countries, following a similar agreement with Alipay announced last December where they would use Alipay’s QR-code technology to allow their respective customers to use the apps in each other’s markets. Momo, Pagaqui and Bluecode are aiming for later this summer in their home markets. Alipay said it expected to expand these partnerships into more European countries and companies in the future.
“This unique cooperation is a testament to how collaboration in Europe can simplify the market for businesses and users to create better outcome for everyone,” said Rune Garbog, CEO of Vipps. “We are extremely enthusiastic about new partners joining this collaboration, giving all our combined users broader possibilities for using their preferred mobile app also when travelling abroad.”
Alipay announced the news following the kick-off of its eight-year global partnership with UEFA at the inaugural Nations League Final. As part of the partnership, Alipay designed the trophy awarded to the tourney’s top scorer. Soccer legend Christian Ronaldo of Portugal, who scored three goals, won the gold trophy, while teammate Gonçalo Guedes took home silver and England’s Marcus Rashford won bronze.
As of May 2019, Alipay was accepted in 55 countries or regions in the world, of which 29 are in Europe. Launched in 2004, users can hail a taxi, book a hotel, buy movie tickets, pay utility bills, make appointments with doctors, or purchase wealth management products directly from within the app.